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COPS Postcard from the Field: Forecasting When Storms Will Start - Windows to the Universe

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   Image courtesy of Janine Goldstein

From: Janine Goldstein
Gengenbach, Germany, August 6, 2007

Forecasting When Storms Will Start

Hi again! Guess what? Today I had the day off!

Each day, our goal is to set up the "Doppler on Wheels" or DOW near where storms are most likely to occur so that hopefully the storms will pass near the radar and we can collect data on them. To help us with that, there is a group of weather forecasters involved in the COPS project. Each morning they look at all kinds of data and output from weather models in order to predict what the weather is going to be. Then they issue a weather report. It's kind of like what you see on the news ("It'll be sunny this morning, but there is a chance of rain this afternoon, and the high will be 90 degrees.") except that these forecasts are specific to the things we are trying to study, primarily how storm clouds form. They call the first step of storm cloud formation "Convective Initiation" or CI for short. The picture above is a thunderstorm that developed out of some convection. The forecasters try to predict if the conditions will be right for CI, and when and where it will happen.

This morning, they made their forecast and decided that the storms were going to develop overnight. We needed to set up the DOW starting at midnight and collect data until the following evening. That meant we had the day off! We spent the day at an amusement park near here called "EuropaPark" riding rollercoasters. I wasn't expecting to do that during my field work. What a bonus!!

Janine

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Postcards from the Field: COPS

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